Health News

MENINGOCOCCAL DISEASE INFORMATION

Meningococcal disease is caused by bacteria (not by a virus) and transmitted via mucus or saliva. Meningococcal bacteria can live harmlessly in our throat and nose. Around 20% of people will be carrying these bacteria at any one time without ever becoming ill ('healthy carriers').

There are many different strains of meningococcus - the most common in Australia are B and C.

The bacteria are spread by activities such as sneezing, coughing, intimate kissing, and sharing food and drinks. Environments where people are in close contact, such as day-care centres, school camps, parties and nightclubs, make it easier for the bacteria to spread. However the bacteria only live for a short time outside the body - and even if you pick them up, it doesn't mean you'll become ill. The danger only occurs if you pick up a strain you're not immunised against, or don't have any natural immunity to - or if your immune system has for some reason become weakened and cannot cope.

The bacteria do not survive more than a few seconds in the environment, so cannot be picked up from surfaces or objects that have been contaminated by the infected person's respiratory secretions.

Precautions to take:

Remember it is important to practice good hand and cough hygiene.

Also Don't share:

  • Food, dips, ice-cream
  • Drinks, bottles, straws
  • Lipstick or lip gloss
  • Toothbrushes
  • Cigarettes, mouth guards, musical instrument mouth pieces

Also:

  • Don't suck the end of a shared pen/pencil
  • Don't suck baby's dummy before putting it in baby's mouth
  • Watch out for toddlers sucking and sharing toys.

Please check the information attached about Meningococcal Disease and Meningococcal vaccines available from Department of Health.

For more information go to www.amandayoungfoundation.org.au

Thank you
Jenny Hill - College Nurse

Resources: Department of Health WA, Amanda Young Foundation